April 2013


Avionics aims to manage green issues

How the avionics industry limits the use of lead in its components

Aliyah Esmail

The IEC has recently published the 2nd edition of IEC/TS 62239-1, Process management for avionics – Management plan – Part 1: Preparation and maintenance of an electronic components management plan, which now includes the management of lead-free termination finish and soldering of avionic components.

Impact of electronics industry on avionics

Today’s electronics industry is having a growing impact on the aerospace industry with its worldwide move to reduce the use of hazardous substances – lead in particular, still extensively used in coatings and solders – from all electronics in the commercial sector.


In 2002 the EU (European Union) enacted two pieces of legislation that restrict or eliminate the use of substances with lead in most electrical and electronic equipment. This directive took effect in 2006. It was developed as part of targets set for the collection, recycling and recovery of electrical goods to help reduce e-waste.


In 2007, China and South Korea implemented regulations that are intended to establish similar restrictions to those of the EU. In the United States, California, Vermont, Maryland and Louisiana have enacted lead-free legislation and several states have enacted green laws. In preparation of the impact of such legislation, IECQ (IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components) developed the HSPM (Hazardous Substances Process Management) Scheme as a mechanism for component suppliers that they comply with hazardous substance free legislation.


The avionics industry, and increasingly other industries, depend on the IECQ Electronic Component Management Plan to assess suppliers and safely manage their components’ supply chain. IECQ also allows manufacturers to more easily comply with increasingly strict hazardous substances regulations.

Lead-free not for aerospace or the military

Aerospace and military applications are excluded from the abovementioned lead-free requirements. Vendors, however, especially those who rely on consumer electronics companies, will have to begin to incorporate lead-free production if they have not already done so. This will be so that they can remain competitive in the international markets on which they depend.


ADHP (Aerospace, Defence and High Performance) is one of the few industrial sectors where lead-free materials and processes are relatively new. An aerospace-wide approach has been developed. The industry can now create a plan that allows manufacturers to ensure the reliability of the components it uses and make sure that these components are secure for the long-term.


IEC/TS 62239-1 documents processes that assure customers and regulatory agencies that ADHP electronic systems containing solder (either traditional tin/lead or lead-free solder), lead-free or tin/lead finished piece parts, and printed wiring boards will meet the performance, reliability, airworthiness, and safety requirements throughout the component’s lifecycle.


IECQ is a worldwide approval and certification system that covers the supply, assembly, associated materials and processes of a large variety of electronic components that are used in millions of devices and systems.


The IECQ Certification System provides manufacturers with independent verification that IEC International Standards and other specifications were met by suppliers who hold an IECQ certification.


IECQ operates five certification schemes: HSPM (Hazardous Substances Process Management), ECMP (Electronic Component Management Plan), AP (Approved Process), AC (Approved Component) and ITL (Independent Testing Laboratory). www.iecq.org


  • Though the aerospace and military indutries are excluded from lead-free requirements, their component manufacturers are not.
  • The electronics industry is having a growing impact on the aerospace industry.
  • To prepare for restrictions in components with lead, IECQ developed the HSPM Scheme.


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IEC e-tech April 2013


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